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Stu Levitan welcomes Jeff Kannel, author of Make Way For Liberty: Wisconsin African Americans in the Civil War from our very good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.
When the civil war began in April 1861, neither the US Army or the Wisconsin state militia allowed Black men to serve. But on April 9, 1865, Black men – some of them from Wisconsin — held the rifles that fired the last shots preventing Robert E Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia from escaping at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. By that time, more than 450 Black men, residents of Wisconsin or credited to the state, had served in the US Colored Troops. In addition, several hundred, maybe thousands, had served in support roles for Wisconsin officers and regiments.
Who those men were, and what their lives were like before, during and after the war, are the questions Jeff Kannel answers in this comprehensive survey of an overlooked aspect of our shared history. They’re answers he started researching ten years ago, after attending a presentation at Kenosha’s Civil War Museum, where he was a volunteer. And after retiring as an instructor at Gateway Technical College, he had time to continue that research, and turn it into this book, for which we are all indebted.
It is a pleasure to welcome to Madison BookBeat, Jeff Kannel